Brace yourself, Honey: we’re through

Published 3:13 pm Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Things are finally straight around our house. Not the closets, mind you, but the teeth – all 160 of them. They are, at long last, as straight as they’re ever going to be. The bites are square. The brackets are off. The retainers are in the drawer. (Hey, aren’t they supposed to be wearing those things?)

Yeah, the Henderson kids are finally braces-free.

And while the guys made the most of turkey season last Saturday, we girls celebrated the youngest’s dental liberation with brunch. There were nine of us, including the granddarlings, and we eventually decided to allow one token male (my dad) to take part. We did this for a several reasons, the most important being: a) he doesn’t hunt, and b) he doesn’t talk much.

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So a very competent waitress named Shaneika served up pancakes as we gabbed about tin grins and how many times I hauled them to 130 North Church Street for appointments. The daughters-in-law chimed in with their own tales of alignment from other hometowns, and my mother, who has only been on the paying end of this business, recalled my two (yes, two) sets of braces and made predictions about the orthodontic futures of the three highchair occupants.

I even had a friend add to the conversation by way of text, saying something to the effect that this Invisalign generation doesn’t really know the true meaning of a 1970s ‘metal mouth’, when every pearly white sparkled with silver. She also made a derogatory reference to that earlier era’s headgear, and how “kids these days should try that on for a while.”

Headgear. Now that’s something I had forgotten. On purpose.

I’m not sure if headgear is part of any current treatment plans, but according to the American Association of Orthodontists, braces sure are, with over one million sets of wires and brackets installed every year in the United States. At an average cost of nearly $5,000, braces put a hefty dent in many family budgets, making good on the popular admonition to “put your money where your mouth is.”

Even so, with each new patient, the responsible party (as the necessary forms define the payee/parent) is casting a vote of confidence in the future. He or she is saying, in essence, “Bring it on. There’ll be plenty to smile about in the days ahead. I want my child to be ready for it.”

Not long after the girls’ brunch, however, my realist husband offered a different perspective on orthodontic emancipation celebrations. Over a sausage and biscuit at our own breakfast table, he causally remarked how nice it would be if all the other problems arising during the teenage years could be straightened out as easily as teeth.

Yes, I could definitely see the correlation. Efforts to properly position by exerting steady pressure over a period of time – well, orthodontists aren’t the only ones in that business. Their work just seems to have more predictable results.

So, with at least our offsprings’ cosmetic dental needs met, we are saying good-bye to another stage of parenting. As I find errant elastic bands under rugs and behind drapes in the days to come, though, I vow to recall our decade of orthodontics with a smile.

Thanks, Dr. Leggett, for keeping Brookhaven (and in particular, our five sets of protrusions, mismatched midlines and general imperfections) straight.

Wesson resident Kim Henderson is a freelance writer who writes for The Daily Leader. Contact her at